Anthony Cunningham saluted the intelligence and courage of his Roscommon team following their come-from-behind Connacht final win over Galway at Pearse Stadium.

For the second time in three years the Rossies went to Salthill and won, coming from five down at the break on this occasion. They were a team transformed in the second half, with their intensity and work-rate seeing them through.

It was the perfect birthday present for Cunnigham, who turned 54 over the weekend.

"We’re delighted, especially delighted with the second half, disappointed at half-time that we started well but fell off for ten minutes before half time," explained Cunningham, who has now won provincial titles with Galway hurlers and Roscommon footballers.

"We got punished by Galway, that’s what Galway will do, but we really had a courageous performance in the second half, I’d use the word courage because we just went for it with their attitude, their work rate and their intelligence on the ball in the second half."

Sometimes managers get the praise when their teams turn around a second half deficit and Cunningham surely had a few things to say to his players in the dressing-room, though he played down his role.

"Sometimes we kicked the ball away too easy in the first half, it was a wet day and probably a day that didn’t suit that," said the double All-Ireland winner as a player with Galway hurlers.

Cox (right) tussles with Galway's Tom Flynn

"We just had to up our work rate again, we dropped off for ten minutes, that was the simple message, we worked hard but we were a lot more intelligent in the second half. 

"We turned over the ball too many times in the first half but I just wanted guys to commit to the breaks, be a bit more definite in the tackles and go and win it. They are fine margins even though there’s a few points in the finish."

Conor Cox played seven times for his native Kerry before transferring to play with his father’s native Roscommon for this season - and it’s a move that paid off.

The classy forward swept over five points, three from play, in the Rossies’ 1-13 0-12 win.

"My family were all here today so we’re delighted. I saw them out there after - all delighted, all mad Rossies," smiled the 25-year-old from Listowel.

"I can’t really put it into words yet to be honest. Five points down at half-time it was an uphill battle and we believed. Anthony Cunningham is a great manager, he was always positive with us and he just told us to work on the things that we had been working on and get them better.

"I think we were more efficient in the second half. In the first half we lost a good few balls that we should have held on to. Galway play a good defensive arc when they're set up and I suppose we were a bit more patient in the second half and that paid off.

"I’m delighted. To be honest, it’s grand for the players, but when you see the supporters, young boys and girls delighted on the field afterwards, it really shows that they back us to the hilt and we’re delighted to give them something to shout about."